A new study has found hands-free cellphone laws are associated with fewer driver deaths in the United States.

The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital looked at drivers and non-drivers – including passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists – and total deaths involved in passenger vehicle crashes from 1999 through 2016 in 50 U.S. states, along with the presence and characteristics of cellphone use laws.

The study found that hands-free cellphone laws were associated with fewer driver deaths, but calling-only, texting-only, texting plus phone-manipulating and calling and texting bans were not.

As of June 2021, 21 of 50 states have implemented hands-free cellphone laws which ban almost all handheld cellphone use including texting, calling and using apps. In addition, three states and the District of Columbia banned calling and texting, 24 states banned texting, and two states had no prohibition on cellphone use for drivers of any age.

“We’re not suggesting states take people’s phones away while driving or tell them not to use their phone while driving,” said Motao Zhu, lead author of the study and principal investigator in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s.

“We’re recommending that, if you need to use your phone while driving, you do so hands-free. Further, we recommend states implement hands-free cellphone laws to encourage this behavior change.”